Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sliders – stoker – review (TV Episode)


Directed by: Jerry O’Connell

First aired: 1997

Contains spoilers

Sliders was a sci-fi series that ran for five seasons all told and was about a scientist Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell) who created a device – called the timer – which opened up a wormhole bridge to an alternate dimension and allowed the user to slide to that other world. Things went wrong and his Professor, Arturo (John Rhys-Davies), his friend Wade (Sabrina Lloyd) and singer Rembrandt Brown (Cleavant Derricks) end up stuck out of their own dimension.

By the time this episode, which was towards the end of season 3, aired Arturo was gone from the series, they had with them Capt Maggie Beckett (Kari Wuhrer) and were hunting down another slider Rickman (Neil Dickson), who was feeding off compatible brain fluid from victims in order that he might stay alive. The Rickman side story in this episode was, pretty much, simply there to get some of the characters out of the way.

Duff McKagan as HarkerAs each episode could be in an alternate world it allowed the writers pretty much free reign and, in this world, vampires were real. At a club the band Stoker are about to go on stage (they were classed as Goth, and obviously that was an alternate world version of Goth because they sounded fairly mainstream rock to me!) The drummer Harker (Duff McKagan, yes he from Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver) is upset at a derogatory comment in a review.

fangs ootTheir helper Renfield (Danny Masterson) brings in a girl who wants to audition as a female singer for the band named Mina (Leslie Soule). She is willing to do anything but lead singer Morgan (Ryan Alosio) tells her that getting undressed is not necessary. He sprouts fangs. As the band plays they are watched by Wade and there seems to be some sort of connection between her and Morgan.

Sabrina Lloyd as WadeNow, you might be thinking at this point – pretty messed up using standard Dracula names in this, after all it is a little clichéd. Later, however, when Quinn meets Van Elsinger (Tommy Chong) we get a little bit of background to the vampire situation and the names seem less clichéd as the writers at least thought about it.

Wade is with the bandQuinn mentions Dracula and it draws a blank – the book was never written in this world. However, in 1897 (the year the book was published in our world) vampirism was officially recognised as a felony. As well as using some Dracula references there is a hint of reincarnation with Wade, ish. Morgan recognises her voice as being identical to one he has searched for over the decades and plays a recording on an old gramophone. This had overtones of the Dan Curtis created staple but used voices rather than portraits. Due to this he wants to turn Wade and have her join the band.

Things take on an even darker turn when Morgan hears about the timer and decides that he is sick of being hunted and hiding. He wants to get the timer and leave their world to find a world where vampires are nothing but myth. Wade becomes an accomplice in this as he develops a telepathic hold over her.

Mina deadSo what other powers do the vampires have. Firstly, whilst they sleep during the day, either in coffins or roosted ala the Lost Boys, they can stand sunlight. Harker places Mina’s body in the critics car and then drives it with mojo into a wall, killing the critic, and this happens in daylight.

energy-beam-from-a-guitar thingWood through the heart, holy water ‘paint balls’ and crosses are the order of the day it seems. To be sure of the kill the vampire must be decapitated – although older ones will rapid rot. When Rembrandt holds up a silver cross, Harker is able to channel electric energy through the end of a guitar and conduct it through the cross – which seemed too clichéd really.

Quinn discovers that vampires are strong!They are stronger than humans and, despite the fact that vampirism is a felony, they don’t seem to mind the limelight – Stoker have been around for years under various musical guises, and one wonders why no one (other than Van Elsinger) had worked it out.

The confusing part of the lore was based on how one became a vampire. Van Elsinger explains that when a body dies and the spirit is trapped within it, the dead person freaks out and needs blood to sustain itself.

rapidly rotted vampireAll well and good but then Quinn suggests that they have to kill Morgan – the head vampire – before Wade makes a kill as that will turn her into a vampire. Perhaps this had something to do with the old recipe of wine Wade was drinking, which is pure Lost Boys again. However the 'kill the head vampire' goes against the original concept which saw the individual die and their soul become trapped - it would be too late once that had happened.

I have to say that I thought the show pulled back from the gore a little too much – despite being a network show, it could have had a little bit more of the stakage and blood flying around. But all in all this wasn’t a bad little episode, despite the lore confusion around turning. However, the Rickman sub-story served only to confuse if you were watching this as a stand alone episode. 4.5 out of 10.

The episode’s imdb page is here.

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